Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sweaterdresses and running the shopping mall gauntlet

I recently found myself obsessed with the idea of sweater-dresses. While I realized, despite the loss of 15 pounds, my figure is not the lean, willowy sort on which a sweater-dress will look good, I still found myself desirous of owning one.

Last night I trekked to the mall, all couple of miles from my house, in search of a sweater dress. My requirements were few: relatively cheap, since I had no idea if I would like it and didn’t want to be out $150 if I only wore it once, no pockets, no chunky knits or cables, and as much natural material as possible.

I found it at Banana Republic: a purple knee-length, long-sleeved sweater-dress in a fine knit on the clearance rack for $60, with an additional 20% off. Perfect. I tried it on and while I’m sure it is not the most flattering thing for my saddlebags and runner’s thighs, it was cozy, comfortable, and would still be work appropriate.

I bought it and walked out of the store.

And ran face-to-face with the most annoying of all shopping mall trends. No, not teenagers in booty shorts and Uggs. Not young men with too much eyeliner, not people with dogs in purses.
The kiosk sales people. They sell lotion, make-up, hair extension, flat-irons, fingernail buffers, and knock off perfume. And they chase you down the hallways of the mall trying to get you to try their products. Shopping becomes a gauntlet run: shoppers must put their heads down and sprint the length of the kiosk filled hallways, dodging outstretched lotion bottles and people with hot hair tools.

I lived in Mexico for nearly six months and I experienced fewer aggressive sales people there than I experience in a 45 minute trip to the mall.

Usually I react to them the same way I reacted to vendors in Mexico. A small smile, a headshake, and moving on. Sometimes, though, I get really annoyed by the people chasing after me when all I want to do is get in and out uninterrupted.

One morning, well over a year ago, just a couple days before the bar exam, I had to run to the mall to pick up the bridesmaid gifts for my rapidly approaching wedding. I had not showered yet that day (or, probably, the day before). I was wearing one of the mister’s castoff t-shirts, a pair of gym shorts, and an icky ponytail. I was exhausted, irritable, nervous, and in a hurry.
One of the flat-iron sales men gave me his “let me show you something” spiel. I said no, thank you, but he persisted, reaching for the rubber band and bobby pins I had used to contain my hair, and I snapped. Literally, I could feel the tether I had on my control spring free. I whirled on him and pointed my finger in his face.

“Look at me,” I snarled, gesturing to my greasy hair and crappy clothes. “Do I look like I care about my hair right now? I have to take the bar exam in three days. I’m getting married in less than two weeks. I just need to pick up a couple of earrings and a purse. Please, leave me alone. I do not have time for this.”Last night was not quite so violent, but I was so annoyed by the guy trying to buff my fingernails (eww, I don’t know where that buffer pad has been, don’t touch me with that) that I forgot to make a stop at the mall and I now find myself faced with the necessity of going back. This time, though, I’ve planned my parking strategy in such a way that I can get in, go to the store I need and get out without walking down the kiosk-laden hallways.


MOLLY said...

I freaking hate those kiosk guys! They're so horrible! I usually just say "NO!" before they ever say a word. Ick.

I think the sweater dress sounds so cute! Let's see a pic!

JM said...

My most recent encounter with a kiosk guy went like this:
"Do you have a minute?"
"No thanks."
"No thanks? Thanks for WHAT? What are you thanking me for, huh?"

Guess he'd had one too many rejections that day.